There Are No Tomatoes In Productivity

Being productive means moving closer to the end goal.

The faster and more efficiently you do that, the more productive you are.

However, there is a huge difference between productivity and discipline. I’m willing to give you that they’re cousins, but one is not the other.

Tomato timers, tickler files, and all the productivity apps in the world aren’t really needed. They are things marketers invent to lure money from your pocket, because they know you believe you need them.

If only you had the widget3000 you would own your days and accomplish everything you ever desired.

Has that ever been the case though?

Have you ever downloaded the new app or bought the timer and a few days later you were right back to overwhelm?

That’s because you have a finite amount of energy.

Being productive is more about doing less, than it is about doing more. Remember, it’s getting from point A to point B faster and more efficiently.

There’s an entire industry worth billions preying on your “must do more” mentality. You start drinking energy drinks, or taking nootropics, or buying another app and another app. All in hopes of finally conquering that list.

It’ll just keep getting bigger though.

You’ll do 5 things today and come up with 7 more.

The real reason you’re feeling overloaded and drowning in to-do items, is you’ve added too much to your plate. You’re doing lots of little things that aren’t really necessary.

You’re writing and energy check that your body can’t cash.

How To Really Become More Productive

It starts with honesty and clarity.

What is your point A and your point B.

Step 1: Brainstorm

If you need to go ahead and write out alllllll the steps. You’re not going to do them all, but it helps your brain if you write them all out. Just let it dump all of it’s ideas out onto a piece of paper or whatever app you use.

Then it’s time to make first round draft picks. Except, instead of like sports we’re not going to pick the best items first. We’re going to pick the worst ones first and get them off our list.

Step 2: Strategic Cuts

You should be able to kill 20% of the list right from the start. For example, here’s a list of things for throwing a party.

  1. Clean the house
  2. Invite some friends over
  3. Buy some chips and dip
  4. Buy some party decorations
  5. Research good party music playlists
  6. Buy new radio for the party
  7. Fill the fridge with mix of beers

Right away I can cross out 3 items from this list and still have a great party.

  1. Clean the house
  2. Invite some friends over
  3. Buy some chips and dip
  4. Fill the fridge with mix of beers

Step 3: Delegate

In my city we have a service called Molly Maids, so I’ll call them up and have them clean the house. They can do it better and cheaper than if I spent my own time doing it.

Next, when I invite each of my friends I’ll ask them to pickup a bag of chips and six pack on their way over.

  1. Hire molly maids to clean the house
  2. Invite some friends over & ask them to bring chips/drinks
  3. Make some chip dip before they arrive

If we look at my first list and the last list, I’m essentially achieving the exact same goal. Really, the only difference is I’m going to have a slightly less cool radio to play my music on and no decorations.

The house still gets cleaned, friends still come over, chips and dip still happen, fridge still gets filled with beer. Except, this time I was able to achieve that goal much faster and easier. THAT’S PRODUCTIVE!

Obviously, this list was easy because it was made up. It demonstrates the process though. Like anything in life you get better at this with practice.

The first time you try this it’ll be hard to find anything you can cut from your list. Just like the first time you try to delegate items you’ll want to hold onto them and do them yourself.

You have to break yourself from these bad habits and practice is the only way.

Productivity is not filling your time with more stuff and using tools that tie you to the desk for hours on end. Productivity is being able to sit at the desk for a couple hours and do what it would take someone else a whole day to do.

It’s about doing less, but achieving more.

Signs That Your Doing It Wrong

Overwhelm is a great alarm clock.

Every time you start feeling overwhelmed you can use that as a reminder that you might have fallen off track again.

That’s ok, it takes practice. Just go through the 3 steps again.

Another sign that you’re doing it wrong is when you start seeking a tool or new app to help you manage everything. If you can’t manage it with a simple physical or digital notepad, you’re probably adding too much to your list again.

If you’re feeling like you need a drill sergeant to stand over you and force you to get everything done because your willpower just keeps fading… You’re probably adding to much to your list again.

On most days there should only be 3–5 things on your list. With a couple days each month that have a little more. NEVER should it get into dozens of items.

If you have dozens of items on your list for more than a couple days your brain will seek refuge. You will find yourself procrastinating, getting off task, stressed, and feeling depressed. These are your brains natural defense against your bad habit, it’s trying to protect you from yourself.

So whether you like it or not, you must create better shorter lists.

You can either use short strategic lists and turn your brain into your ally. Or you can create large lists, turn on the timers, and battle against your brain all day.

Save yourself the stress, and just do the 3 steps. It takes a little more time upfront to do the 3 steps, but you save hours of time by doing it.

6 months from now people will be asking you how you get so much done and you’ll smirk, because you know you’re actually doing much less.